Monthly Archives: October 2018

The US and the UK are taking over from bin Salman

The US is calling for a Yemen ceasefire within the next 30 days – not later, says Mattis. The Pentagon will ground the Saudi Air Force. The State Department (Pompeo) has made the formal US call for the ceasefire.

Ahmed bin Abdelaziz, King Salman’s brother has returned to Saudi Arabia from London with MI6/SAS protection. Bin Salman (MBS)’s Blackwater bodyguard has been told to stand down.

You admit Jamal Khashoggi was killed in your consulate… so where’s the body?

Yesterday, Saudi prosecutors said Jamal Khashoggi’s killing was premeditated, citing Turkish evidence and changing the country’s account once again to try to ease international outrage over the slaying of the journalist. But, speaking at a meeting of the provincial leaders of the Justice and Development (AK) Party in Ankara today, Erdoğan responds quizzically: “So, where is Khashoggi’s body then? And who ordered the Khashoggi’s killing?

Erdoğan adds cryptically that Turkey has other “information and evidence” about the killing by Saudi officials after Khashoggi entered the consulate on Oct. 2, and it will eventually reveal that information. This comes after bin Salman seemed to turn his foreign policy on its head, in order presumably to please Erdoğan, after having talked with him in a phone call he had insisted on making.

The process of “death by a thousand cuts” continues unrelentingly, as the Turks seek to accumulate legally obtained evidence to match the intelligence data inadmissible in a court of law that they had from the start. The policy of gradually leaking the intelligence data to the press has so far been successful in pushing Saudi Arabia along in its multiple contradictory denials and admissions in the past 3 weeks. More to come as bin Salman writhes.

Bin Salman denounces ‘heinous’ murder he (allegedly) ordered: changes foreign policy on a pin

After phoning Erdoğan today, bin Salman called the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi a “heinous crime”. Speaking publicly for the first time since Khashoggi’s killing, he insisted the kingdom was cooperating with Turkish authorities and “justice will prevail”.

After presumably committing to deliver the 18 accused of the Khashoggi murder to Turkey to face justice, he committed in public to ‘restructure the entire security administration of the kingdom’ to meet the required standards of modernisation that he says he is expecting of all other government departments under the 2030 Vision.

While he didn’t bring up the name of his (ex-) mentor Mohamed bin Zayed of Abu Dhabi explicitly, he nevertheless declared that no-one in future will divide between Saudi Arabia and Turkey, so long as Salman is King of Saudi Arabia, he is Crown Prince, and Erdoğan is President of Turkey. Bin Salman also found something nice to say about Qatar.


Gina Haspel’s visit to Ankara has confirmed Trump administration’s worst fears

Trump tells reporters at the White House that the “Saudis”…  ‘had a very bad original concept. It was carried out poorly, and the cover up was one of the worst in the history of coverups.’ Trump hits the nail on the head about the Khashoggi case and why it is so damaging for Saudi Arabia and, by association for Trump: its planning reeks of hubris and sheer stupidity, while the cover-up is even worse. ‘Whoever thought of that idea is in big trouble, should be in big trouble’, he says. The language is ominous.

As usual Trump, having all facts, says he wants to get all the facts on Khashoggi’s killing before agreeing with Erdoğan’s assessment that the whole thing was premeditated murder. The idea is that CIA Director Gina Haspel has to report back, although she has already communicated that there is evidence on tape that bin Salman was micromanaging the murder as it took place.

This is why Pompeo is revoking the visas and imposing sanctions on those identified as the killers that, in his words, ‘ work for ministries and at the royal court. These penalties will not be the last word on the matter from the United States. We’re making very clear that the United States does not tolerate this kind of ruthless action to silence Mr. Khashoggi, a journalist, through violence.’

Pompeo echoes Trump’s position that Washington is still awaiting all the facts, promising further response. But Trump and Pompeo are not waiting on information from Erdoğan. They are addressing King Salman and his new advisers, putting pressure on them to distance themselves from MBS and choose a new Crown Prince. That’s who they are really waiting on.

Meanwhile, MBS’s planned speech at the (fake) investor conference (Davos in the desert) is summarily cancelled. Instead various other speakers allude to the ‘tragedy’ in Istanbul and the fact that actions such as Khashoggi’s murder ‘are not in the Saudi DNA.’ Sorry, but they are: the Saudi state in its three historical manifestations since the 18th century have been extremely violent affairs.

Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner, having forged a close personal relationship with MBS to pursue their aggressive policies in the Middle East, especially towards Palestinians and against Iran, would be the last to want to see him go. However, MBS is now tainted goods, and the longer he stays the worse it will be for Trump. Trump’s Middle East policy is essentially dead. It is unlikely that any other Saudi Royal will follow MBS’s soiled path, crafted over some years by Mohamed bin Zayed (MbZ) through Otaiba, his Ambassador in Washington.

Bin Salman: death by a thousand cuts

Erdoğan promised the “naked truth” in today’s speech at the AKP party conference, but what he did was to tighten the noose without giving anything away. Saudi has admitted that Jamal Khashoggi was killed at the consulate, so now he wants to know from them who ordered the killing.

The Saudis have arrested 18 people in Saudi Arabia in connection with the killing, so he wants them to come and stand trial in Turkey. They said they don’t know where the body and that it was given to a local Turkish citizen to dispose of, so in his speech Erdoğan asked for the name of that person. Since the speech some of Jamal Khashoggi’s body parts have been found at the Saudi consul’s residence, which tells us that – yet again – the Saudis were lying.

Erdoğan is too wily a politician to rush and deliver the coup de grâce – reveal the video and audio evidence of the murder at the consulate, which is said to include a Skype call to bin Salman (MBS) – to nail a Saudi régime that none of the Western states are prepared to let go of despite their shock and horror at recent events. Better let it die on the vine… die by a thousand cuts.

Foundations promoting ‘brand Israel’ also funding Islamophobia

Hatem Bazian writes: What do Canary Mission, far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders, Robert Spencer‘s and Pamela Geller‘s American Freedom Defense Initiative or Stop Islamization of America, the U.S. Tea Party and David Yerushalmi‘s American Freedom Law Center all have in common? They are all funded by various chapters of mainstream Jewish federations across the U.S. and the SF Diller Foundation.

In the past I wrote an article for the American Studies Journal and I estimated that 70 percent of the funding for Islamophobia propaganda comes from pro-Israel or Zionist sources; now the evidence of this is slowly emerging. To date, the single-largest expenditure to push Islamophobia in the U.S. came in the form of the Clarion Fund paying upward of $17 million to produce and distribute 28 million copies of the documentary “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War against the West” in the run-up to the 2008 elections. This Clarion Fund expenditure was followed by another for the more Islamophobically horrific documentary, “The Third Jihad: Radical Islam’s Vision for America,” framing the American Muslim community civic engagement programs as a threat to the country that collectively could not be trusted. The recent reports on the San Francisco Jewish Federation and the Diller Foundation funding for the granddaddies of the Islamophobia Industry make the initial estimates very conservative.

An Oct. 3, 2018 article by Josh Nathan-Kazis titled “REVEALED: Canary Mission Blacklist Is Secretly Bankrolled by Major Jewish Federation” published in the The Forward, a politically progressive publication read by American Jews, uncovered evidence that all the above major Islamophobic figures and groups received funding from San Francisco’s Jewish Community Federation and the Diller Foundation. Examining the tax returns from the 2014-2016 period, Josh Nathan-Kazis, pointed out that: “The federation’s support of Canary Mission connects the American Jewish establishment itself to a website that is facing increasing criticism from young Jews.” Canary Mission is a McCarthyite blacklisting operation that targets pro-Palestine and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) activists on college campuses to protect Israel’s brand in the U.S.

Critically, the outfits mentioned above all engage in the most despicable forms of Islamophobia and seek to demonize the American Muslim community. Funding for Geert Wilders, who pushes the most extreme anti-immigrant and xenophobic policies in the Dutch Parliament, is very disturbing and raises profound ethical and moral questions to the American Jewish community. In 2013, four members of Wilders’s Freedom Party “wore badges in Dutch Parliament … featuring a well-known neo-Nazi insignia that has links to the country’s infamous National Socialist Movement of the 1930s.” Recently, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed Wilders for an official visit to Israel but for the Diller Foundation to provide funding for a known neo-Nazi sympathizer and his party is an unforgivable act considering the current rise of white nationalist groups domestically and across the globe.

Pamela Geller‘s American Freedom Defense Initiative, or Stop the Islamization of America, was responsible for framing the community center in New York City as the “ground zero mosque” and led the 2010 campaign against it. More importantly, Geller’s bus ads in the past few years across the country generated the most insidious forms of Islamophobia in a supposed effort to protect Israel’s standing. Furthermore, Geller’s outlandish forms of Islamophobia included hosting a “draw the prophet of Islam” cartoon competition, but it seems none of this disqualified her from receiving funding from the Diller Foundation.

In U.S. political landscape, David Yerushalmi‘s American Freedom Law Center has played a very insidious role in demonizing Muslims through the sponsorship of countless anti-Sharia legislation. For the Diller Foundation and Jewish federations across the country to fund such an outfit that targets Muslims is yet another stab at the Muslim community, which took place while interfaith efforts were underway across the country. What is the purpose of promoting interfaith relations if major funding agencies for the American Jewish community are engaged in the wholesale funding of Islamophobic groups and individuals? Interfaith dialogue is meaningless and insulting if funding Islamophobic groups is undertaken within the same mainstream organizational infrastructure.

I have reviewed detailed tax returns from multiple Jewish federations across the country and was shocked by what I found. Yes, the Jewish Federation and Diller Foundation handed out many grants and funded projects undertaken by community groups, organizations and universities, which are all worthwhile and inspiring considering the commitment and commendable high levels of generosity regularly demonstrated. However, the funding directed at Islamophobic groups, Geert Wilders‘s neo-Nazi Freedom Party, the U.S. Tea Party and others, stains and undermines the good that is done.

The issue at hand is the split personality of the organized American Jewish community which can be seen on one hand as generosity, building hospitals, funding schools, liberal political positions and offering support in defense of civil rights for all. However, on the other hand, the same community groups acting on behalf of Zionism and seeking to protect Israel’s interests can exhibit the most reactionary and racist discourse when it comes to Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims and their allies.

The issue of Palestine causes the American Jewish community to pursue strategies and policies that undermine and cross the ethical and moral boundaries of the community. Resorting to funding Islamophobia is a sign of failure and an admission that Israel as a brand is no longer defensible on merits alone. Demonizing BDS activists, targeting Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) organizers and defaming faculties on college campuses is behind all the efforts at rescuing Israel’s image and brand. Funding Wilders will not rescue the brand but will mar it further and lead most young Jewish Americans to seek a different and more meaningful future.

Jewish journalist and activists who exposed these contradictions are acting to uphold and express the highest ethical and moral ideals of the Jewish community and often are doing so in partnership with Palestinians and Muslims in the U.S. and abroad. Appealing and funding Islamophobia in the hope of saving Israel’s apartheid is a failed and failing policy, and no amount of grants or resources can rescue dying settler colonialism. The future belongs to Jews, Muslims and justice-loving people from all walks of life that are already crafting and envisioning a different tomorrow, one that is not wedded to securing a demographically engineered apartheid state.

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Enough of Mohamed bin Salman!

His boss, Trump, cannot allow him to become King and maybe just maybe, the American political system is waking up to the monster they have chained to their coat tails.